Donna knows the power of volunteering June 2019

Donna King, from volunteer to paid employee

“It gets you out there and meeting people... I would have found it much more difficult in Kaitaia if I hadn't volunteered.”

The benefits of volunteering go far beyond the sense of fulfilment to be gained from being an active member of a community, helping others and actively working for worthy causes.

The best outcome can be progressing from volunteer to paid employee.

So says Volunteering Northland, and Donna King is a perfect example of that.

Donna, originally from around the By of Plenty / central North Island area, has returned after 19 years in Australia, and is now happily ensconced in Kaitaia with her black Lab Pepper, who also made the trip from West Australia to the Far North (What did that cost? “You don't want to know”).

A former chartered accountant who had no desire to return to that occupation, Donna offered her services to bidders via Volunteering Northland's website, and soon found herself engaged with the SPCA and the Eco Centre, both in Kaitaia. Just weeks later she had paid jobs with both of them, in animal care and some computer work and as a funding and finance office respectively.

Together those positions, both of which benefit from her background and experience, employ her for 30 hours a week, and Donna is happy with that lot.

Volunteering Northland, she said, had been very helpful and actively supportive. She agreed that volunteering could be a very good place to start for someone who is looking to earn a living. Good references, showing an individual to be reliable, responsible and keen to work, could open a lot of doors, particularly when they did not have a great deal of previous employment, if any, to refer to. “It gets you out there and meeting people too”, she said.

“I would have found it much more difficult in Kaitaia if I hadn't volunteered. Even as an accountant by trade I probably would have struggled with no easily contactable references, so it was important that I had the chance to show what I could do.”

“This is me for now,” she added. “I have two jobs and I'm well settled.”

Both the Eco Centre and the SPCA would be always keen to enlist more volunteers however, and while there could be no guarantees of that evolving into paid employment, Donna was adamant that a great deal of satisfaction and benefit could be gained by active involvement in both.

Story by Peter Jackson (The Northland Age)